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As summer holidays begin, the virus continues its spread

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-07-20

The summer holidays and travel season are under way - as the A(H1N1) virus continues its unrelenting spread across the world. According to the WHO, 440 people have died from the flu from a total of 94,000 confirmed cases.

The Influenza A(H1N1) virus has infected more than 94,000 people in 120 countries and territories and caused 440 deaths worldwide, according to the latest WHO figures published Wednesday.


The virus is now considered the first global pandemic of the 21st century. As of June 11, the WHO has ratcheted up the alert level to the maximum of 6 on a 6-point scale.


The majority of serious or fatal cases have struck people who were already suffering from other illnesses. Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said the Roche pharmaceutical laboratory has promised 5.6 million doses of Tamiflu, which the WHO will distribute to the world’s poorest nations


The WHO does not recommend travel restrictions except for school trips whose destination is an at-risk country. General precautions include:



Limit going to non-ventilated areas


Wash your hands regularly


Pay particular attention to the most vulnerable groups, particularly children and the elderly


See a doctor if fever or flu symptoms occur



Regularly check for updates on such sites as the WHO, and the Center for Disease Control in the USA.


In certain affected countries, such as Argentina, airports have started sanitation checks for passengers when they arrive. Emergency phone numbers have also been issued (see map).




Mexico, the epicentre of the epidemic, is the second most affected nation, with 116 deaths, just behind the US figure of 127. The North American continent, which has the highest number of confirmed cases, has sufficient antiviral drugs to treat the illness for the next few months.


Those returning to France from abroad are advised to avoid contact with infants aged one year or younger for a period of seven days. In the event that you begin to suffer from a fever or flu symptoms, call your doctor immediately or dial Centre 15 emergency services.


French health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said Wednesday that France had procured a billion “anti-projection” masks (for those already infected) and 723 million protective masks (for preventative use), as well as 33 million antiviral treatments.


Scientists and public health experts say the impact of the virus is likely to worsen over the summer and into the autumn as the new school year begins. The WHO has said that a vaccine would be available by September.

Date created : 2009-07-03